When I Was German

Rated 5.00/5 based on 2 reviews
When I Was German is the childhood memoir of a boy raised in a home that reverberated with the echoes of World War II. Although born in NJ long after the last guns in Europe went silent, the unresolved grief of his German mother and the bitter conflict between her and his Jewish father made for a home that was a battlefield through which the boy struggled to survive and grow. More

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About Alan Wynzel

I was born and raised in Morristown, NJ. The years I spent there in a home on Lake Valley Road shaped my life and my writing, which began there, when I was 11. My childhood memoir, When I Was German, tells that story.

Now, at 49, I'm still writing. I'm divorced, have two teenaged kids, and was out of work for almost 2 years in the Great Recession. I've been writing about that, too. A novel, The Seventh Round, that I will publish soon, tells that story. And another is in the works. I'm most prolific, and adept, at telling my own life story, whether in memoir, or fiction.

Like Hemingway said, write what you know.

As for the writers I most admire, well, Hemingway, of course. And Bukowski...I can't read any other poetry but his. Vonnegut, Cormac McCarthy, George Orwell, and Mark Twain.

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Christoph Fischer reviewed on on Nov. 15, 2013

"When I Was German" by Alan Wynzel is a bitter sweet childhood memoir of a young man growing up in his own private war zone that is the marriage between his German mother and his Jewish father in America during the 1960s and 1970s.

It is a moving tale about a child caught in the parent's volatile relationship, the clash of their cultures and personalities and the resulting identity issues for the young men brought on by conflicting ideas and role models.

Wynzel's perception of the Jewish and the German cultures is a very interesting perspective and one that benefits particularly from being told by the point of view of an adolescent. His childhood fantasies, his perception of films and comments about Germans in the US (particularly about the 1976 Munich Olympics hostage drama) and the descriptions of the family holidays in Germany are insightful, heart breaking and thought provoking. Beign German myself and living abroad - even twenty years later than this book's story - I can relate to many of the author's experiences.

Wynzel does an excellent job at describing his experiences realistically and honest, making this an engaging and compelling page turner for me. This is an interesting and unique life story that deserves to be told and read.
(review of free book)
Melvin Litton reviewed on on Sep. 20, 2013

German is as human and real as it gets. And honest, brutally so, for it reveals the various tendrils of hope, angst, and pain that beget us -- the tiny betrayals and promises that stalk our lives. Told through the eyes of a small boy caught between two warring parents. And like that small boy we wonder at times should we be listening? Should we be peering through this door? Then we turn the page in want to witness more. Not entertaining so much as riveting. For here the author wields his pen like a scapel to expose the raw soul of self and others -- all the sorry, joyful, wretched mix of us. And does so bravely, in blistering, graphic detail.
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)
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